Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, October 05, 2006





Finding fancy fizz

Pop the Soda Shop offers

 by Monis Rose
 published on Thursday, October 5, 2006



Sex Soda? Love Potion No. 69? Brainwash?

At Pop The Soda Shop, the selection is far greater than Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

Pop The Soda Shop, located just minutes away from campus on 74th Street and McDowell Road, sells close to 1,400 different soda pops, energy drinks, waters and teas from local and international beverage companies.

With Fizzie Soda Pop tablets facing customers, the shelves contain bottles ranging from blue soda to ginseng soda. The sodas originate from many locations, including Green River soda from Chicago and the raspberry pop that is self-titled from where it's made, Olde Brooklyn.

"We want to give people a choice where they can find different nonalcoholic drinks in one place," says Jeff Guarino, the owner since the store opened in 1998. "Grocery stores only carry two or three dominant brands."

Guarino says people of all ages visit his shop.

"Elderly people come who want to drink something nostalgic. Younger people come in wanting something hip," he says. "Some people want something chic to serve at their parties. And regular people come in wanting something cold and refreshing."

A person can find a cornucopia of soda pops at this Ma and Pa store. The store used to be located along Scottsdale Road, but because of space, convenience and leasing agreements the store moved, Guarino says.

Guarino says that the store is extremely busy on Saturdays, around lunchtime and after school. In the meantime, it caters to the everyday consumer and delivers to restaurants and large businesses.

Amanda O'Neil, a 21-year-old ASU student, says she shops at Pop The Soda Shop for their European Fanta soda and chocolate drinks.

"Pop The Soda Shop has real orange-flavored Fanta that tastes like orange juice and club soda, not watered down Hi-C," she says. "They also have Choco Mel and not just Yoo-hoo, which is thick and creamy and not watery and thin."

There's also a fridge in the back stocked with cold beverages waiting to be drunk.

The left side of the store looks like it houses old junk, but Guarino says the rubble is his future improvements for the store.

"This is a soda fountain from 1950, and someday, we're going to build a soda bar right here and offer sodas with different syrups and ice cream floats," Guarino says.

Like the quality sodas Guarino offers, he's going to deliver when it comes to scooping out ice cream as well. "We're thinking of [the Hawaiian ice cream] Lappert's and gelato."

Guarino says that his business is profitable by what he calls "the Ben and Jerry factor."

"People can overindulge on a gigantic gallon of a no-name brand, or actually treat themselves by buying a much higher quality product," he says.

Right now in the media, soda is receiving negative publicity and being banned in many schools. But overall the soda economy is thriving, Guarino says.

He says that he doesn't support kids gorging themselves with artificially flavored corn syrup but does support people becoming educated on how soda is created and treating themselves to a beverage made out of real cane sugar.

Being the only one of its kind in the Arizona, Pop The Soda Shop doesn't have one particular rival. Guarino says that they sell their products to other businesses who then resell them at higher prices than the original. "Everyone's a possible competitor," Guarino says.

But he adds that The Soda Shop doesn't worry about that because it has an extraordinary product. By word of mouth and a little advertising here and there, people know about the place, Guarino says.

Sodas run from 89 cents to about $2. Six packs, whether mixed together or of a single brand, cost $6 to $9. Cases of soda cost about $36.

Energy drinks are their biggest push right now because the store sells them cheaper than the convenience stores. The majority are $1.49 instead of $2.

For a regular pick-me-up, I-need-to-pull-an-all-nighter-studying drink, Guarino recommends locally made energy drinks like Kronik or Socko.

But he warns people to not drink the energy liquid Sex Soda for scholastic purposes.

"It's not just wake-up juice, it's five-and-a-half hours of weirdness," Guarino says.

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